What To Do When Self-Love Seems Like a Far-Off Goal

inner child healing self-love self-worth Mar 18, 2021
woman with thumbs down who can't love herself


Many people will tell you that all you need to do is love yourself. And I’d agree. If and when you can truly love yourself, everything, and I mean everything, becomes easier.


But have you tried to love yourself?


What typically happens when you try to love yourself is that some days you can, some days you can’t, and other days you simply don’t have the wherewithal to care. It feels like a faraway dream and all you can hear are the voices of inner judgement, criticism, and maybe even contempt.


If that’s you, you are not alone. The journey from self-doubt or self-hatred to self-love is one that we all take. When you begin it is uncertain, but that you will be on it for a long time to come is a given.


Once you’re on the journey, it helps to pay attention and be patient. That’s the thing about love. Whether for another or for ourselves, true love cannot be forced.


So what do you do if you just can’t love yourself? What do you do if self-love is a nice idea to look at in memes on Facebook or Instagram but it rarely if ever enters your day to day reality? What do you do if no matter what you try, self-love seems like a far-off goal?


I’ve been there too. I’ve been in the place of “ugh, no matter what I do, I just can’t love myself.” So today, I want to present to you three alternative places to start if you find yourself not being able to successfully do this thing called “self-love”.


Did you know that I lead weekly segments in what it takes to cultivate self-love and create happiness from the inside out? Join my virtual community, The Happiness Hub, to join me for upcoming live conversations and catch the replays of all previous weekly segments too!)


1. Find something, just one thing, you can like about yourself. 


Self-love can feel big. It can feel huge. And just like happiness, it’s a journey, not so much a destination. The question, therefore, isn’t so much “How do I love myself right now, today, and tomorrow?” It’s “How do I like myself just a little bit more?” “How do I show myself more kindness during this difficult situation than I would have during a similar situation in the past?” and “How do I treat myself more and more like I do my friends and other people who I care about deeply?”


Let yourself off the hook, and breathe a sigh of relief. You don’t need to love yourself in each moment of every day. Life fluctuates. How you feel about life, about yourself, and about people fluctuates. Instead of love, practice like, practice positive regard, practice acceptance, practice respect, and practice kindness. That’s what the fabric of love (whether for yourself or for another) is made of. Simply begin where you are and start with what you’ve got.


2. Stop comparing yourself to others.


The root of the abundance of self-loathing and lack of acceptance that we experience in our world today comes from the fact that we just cannot stop comparing ourselves to other people. We spend our days looking at photos of people who we think are more beautiful and handsome than we are, reading the words of people who we think are smarter than we are, and listening to speeches and advice offered by people who we perceive to be more confident and successful than we are. It’s no wonder we feel so horrible about ourselves day in and day out.


I urge you to get off of the hamster wheel of comparison, recognize your own inner and outer beauty, revel in the unique gifts that you have to offer the world, and reach for your own version of happiness and success rather than the version defined by your older sibling, neighbor, favorite celebrity or blogger. Self-love and joy are more easily accessible than we think they are, if only we curate our environment to include signs of our own personal progress and greatness, and to exclude signs of being behind and not as good as those around us.


Why spend your time absorbed in the beauty and success of others when you can appreciate and admire your own? It’s time to elevate yourself to your own personal pedestal of success, beauty, and intelligence. It’s time to do you, for you. Wouldn’t it be grand if one year from now, I can be telling others to stop comparing themselves to you? I know I can and will, if only you stop comparing yourself to others and pause to appreciate who you are today.

It’s time to elevate yourself to your own personal pedestal of success, beauty, and intelligence. It’s time to do you, for you.

3. Love the one in you who can’t love him/her/themselves.


It may sound counterintuitive, and you might think “ugh, why can’t I just love myself!?” “If only I could love myself, I would be able to…” And while those thoughts and that experience of frustration is a valid one, so too is the experience of not being able to love yourself. Learning to love yourself, then, begins with learning to appreciate the part of you that can’t love yourself yet.

Learning to love yourself begins with learning to appreciate the part of you that just won’t let you love yourself yet.

Imagine this part of you who can’t love yourself as a version of you– a younger, past version of you perhaps. Notice how it appears for you, whether as a sensation in your body, a visual, an urge, or a memory. Get curious about it. Connect with it. Open your heart to it. Anthropomorphize it a bit and ask it how it feels and what leads it to feel this way. Acknowledge its feelings and reasons surrounding not being able to love yourself. Love, after all, isn’t about being right and getting someone (whether another person or a part of you) to do what you want them to do (whether to take out the trash or just get you to love yourself already). It’s about compassion, understanding, and acceptance.


So bring compassion, understanding, and acceptance to this part of you who can’t love yourself. From your higher Self (i.e., your wise self, true essence, or whatever terms you use to refer to the highest, wisest version of you), say out loud or silently to yourself, “I understand that this self-love thing can be hard,” “I understand that you have reasons and experiences that lead you not to be able or willing to go there,” and “It’s okay. There’s no rush. I am here with you. Whenever you decide to move towards self-love or if you don’t, I am here with you.” See this part of you receiving the understanding, compassion, and love that you are offering. To love yourself, you must begin with the parts of you that can’t love themselves yet. The rest will follow. I promise.


Let us know how your self-love and happiness journeys are unfolding below, and then join me in my virtual community, The Happiness Hub, for live weekly lessons in cultivating the skills and qualities necessary to live life as the happiest and best version of you.


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